House Tour: Carol's BIG Space

House Tour: Carol's BIG Space

Nov 29, 2007

Name: Carol
Profession: Multimedia Specialist
Location: Rogers Park, Chicago
Owned/Rented: Rented
Type: 1920's 3-flat; 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, dining room
Size: Approx. 2,000 sq ft
Years lived in: 2

Wow. It's not just the three bedrooms and two full baths (or the separate living and dining rooms or eat-in kitchen) that make Carol's place feel HUGE. As we wandered around the space, we realized that we never had to turn around. Besides the two bathrooms and the full-width "front room" (living room), every room has two entrances. In theory, we could have just kept going, around and around, orbiting in awe at this planetary floor plan.

Yet Carol's decorating sense kept us from getting lost in space. Her paint choices are rich, earthy, and grounding. She incorporates lots of textural elements, whether it be leafy plants or scavenged architectural sections of old barns. Her attraction to funky mid-century design, seen in her extensive collection of Russel Wright dishes and recently re-foamed Danish furniture, is obvious but never pretentious. Her style is the line of oxygen that runs between the natural world and the cosmos, keeping us from passing out at the shock of all this space.

my Style... Eclectic - whatever I like seems to just look OK together. I enjoy "seeing through things," such as windows, under a table to what's on the other side, etc. Thus, there is no storage underneath furniture.

the Inspiration... I love the 1950s. Clean lines and design elements inspire me.

favorite Element... The HUGE fire place, the spacious rooms and windows on all sides of the building; being able to see the tops of trees and the sky; living up high.

biggest Challenge... Re-painting previous sponge paint jobs in horrible colors by other tenants, including the fireplace.

what Friends Say... This is huge - I love it!

biggest Embarrassment... Never owning the environment I've lived in.

proudest DIY... I do everything myself, so I'm proud of it all. I'm probably most proud, however, of the table that I made from one of the doors from our family farm. I used to use it as a dining room table.

biggest Indulgence... Re-foaming the 1970s Danish furniture couches; my Russel Wright dinnerware collection.

best Advice... Get the landlord to pay for your time and effort on improvements if you rent.

my Dream Source... Anything recycled or second-hand; found objects; architectural artifacts; nothing new


Someone else's junk; alleys; Salvage One and Architectural Artifacts in Chicago for ideas; small town thrift stores

• Table in stairwell: Found in the Boston trash, Carol re-covered the seat
• Yellow & green sofa/chair set in living room: Resale store in Iowa
• Barn door table in living room: Carol made this from a barn door salvaged from a family farm in Wisconsin
• Stand-up (previously built-in) drawers in bedroom: This dresser was found in the Boston trash. It was painted black and I refinished it.
• Painted chest in bedroom: From an estate sale
• Chair and ottoman in office: Danish furniture, a gift.
• Loveseat and sidetable in yoga room: Also Danish, also a gift.
• Kitchen stools: Unique Thrift
• Sideboard, sofa, dining set in dining room: Danish, gift.
• Bench in entry: Found in Boston trash

• Floormats in stairwell: a hardware store in Iowa
• Dishes on barn door table: Designed by Ben Seibel (a contemporary of Russel Wright). Some were gifts; some purchased at Unique Thrift Store.
• Vase/pitcher on top of VCR: Designed by Russel Wright
• Jewelry box in bedroom: An old printer's box from a resale store in Boston.
• Towels in bathrooms: Bed Bath & Beyond
• Oval mirror in office: Resale store
• Baskets in yoga room: Resale store
• Towel hook in second (light blue) bath: World Market
• Grain canisters in kitchen: Goodwill
• Partridge and owl candle holders/bookends: Estate sale
• Items on top of sideboard: Various resale stores
• Russel Wright dishes: Various sources (yet I don't buy on E-Bay). I've been collecting Russel Wright for 25 years.
• Tablecloth in living room: Vogue Fabrics
• Baskets in entry: Authentic Chinese sewing basket, gifts.
• Pink dish in living room: "A wonderful surprise" (gift)

• Lamps in living room: Lamp bases from Carol's childhood. She made the conical shades from rice paper and embroidery hoops.
• Floor lamp next to fireplace: From a mansion in Iowa
• Table lamp in bedroom: The lamp is from a flea market in Madison WI; the shade from a flea market in Dixon, IL.
• Ball pulley in bath: Home Depot
• Bare bulb sconce light in yoga room: DIY, made from found objects.

Window Treatments
• Curtains in office and yoga room: DIY from satin fabric bought in Boston's Chinatown
• Copper piping curtain rods: Home Depot. Using copper piping for curtains is a favorite trick of Carol's.

• Map/window artwork in bedroom: Maps are real, free maps from Government and Geographic Info & Data Services at Northwestern University Library. They are installed in original storm windows taken from the family farmhouse located in Wisconsin, which has since been demolished.
• Giant painting in office: Gifted by artist by Deborah Boardman
• Skull in kitchen: Found in the woods in the rural Midwest
• "Mate Meter" in dining room: Resale shop; part of thermometer collection
• Artwork in entry (above bench): Another Deborah Boardman original painting

• Living room, Bedroom: Glidden "Calm Matter"
• Entry: Glidden "Amber Coast"
• Office: Glidden "Manatee Gray"
• Yoga room: Glidden "Burgandy"
• Second bath: Behr, custom color
• Kitchen: Glidden "Greenscape"
• Dining room: Glidden, something off-white
• Dining room trim: Glidden, custom color

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